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The Importance of Point of View: Part I: The Types of POV

Last updated on December 3, 2017

Welcome to the beginning of a short series of posts on point of view (POV). Point of view, or the perspective from which a story is told, is so very important, yet so many writers either neglect to choose it carefully or else fail to use it to its full potential. In this series, I will first define various points of view. In upcoming posts, I will focus on each major POV and illustrate each with a short scene written from that perspective. For comparison, I will use the same scene each time and leave it up to you, the reader, to decide which is most effective in this particular case.


What are the Different Points of View?

1. First person: I, I, I. First person is all about “me.” This intimate point of view allows you to get inside the mind of one character. A successful example of this is Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Butcher puts you into the mind of Harry Dresden, Wizard, and keeps you there for 15 books and counting. This doesn’t mean that the reader knows everything that Harry is thinking, but it does mean that everything the reader knows is colored by Harry’s own thoughts and experiences.

2. Second person: You, you, you. Second person is all about you. The story is directed to you and is about you. Granted, because of its trickiness, this isn’t a popular POV, but it can be effective if your goal is to take the reader on a journey of possibilities. For a list of some popular books written in the second person, take a look at this discussion on Quora.

3. Third person: He, she, they. Third person tells the story from “above.” You may think that this means that the reader sees all and hears all. However, this is the most flexible of the POVs. A writer can choose to use the third person yet show only the thoughts and feelings of the main character in a manner almost as intimate as first person. Alternately, she can travel in the opposite direction and show readers only what happens and distance them from the the inner workings of the characters’ minds. There are many possibilities, and I will explore them later in this series.

Please note that while most good novels find a certain point of view and stick to it, occasionally, a situation calls for switching up POVs throughout your novel. Rules were always meant to be broken but only if you can do it well!

The Importance of Point of View II: First Person

Resource: The Power Of Point Of View: Make Your Story Come To Life by Alicia Rasley


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